Creative Child

Communicating Positively with Children

by Rebecca Eanes

Positive communication is an essential part of all healthy relationships. It builds mutual respect, trust, connection, and nurtures your child’s self-esteem. The parent/child relationship is our first place for learning how relationships should be. Therefore, when we set the standard for healthy, positive communication now, children develop skills that will help them build healthy relationships lifelong.

Here are the guidelines for positive, respectful communication with children.



Oftentimes, parents listen to respond rather than to understand. We want to quickly offer our judgments and advice, but doing so may shut down the lines of communication. Active listening means you listen attentively without interrupting, seeking to understand the words, the emotion, and the message of the speaker.

Put away distractions (don’t look at your phone or a newspaper, but give full attention to your child), show you’re interested by using positive body language (nods, eye contact, open posture), offer encouragement to continue talking, such as “go on” or “uh-huh,” and make sure you understood what was being said by paraphrasing.

For example, “What I’m hearing is that you...Is that correct?”


“I said NOW!”

“What were you thinking?!”

“Get in there and pick that mess up THIS INSTANT!”



Who else would we ever speak to this way except a child? No one! Speaking to children this way isn’t necessary, either. Tone is as important as words, so use a positive, even tone and don’t speak to them in a way you wouldn’t use on anyone else.

I know it can be exasperating when children don’t listen or when they behave in ways we don’t like, but speaking disrespectfully will never encourage cooperation or better behavior. It only sets a poor example for communication – one they will likely pick up and use on you or others in the future.


If you are towering over a child, it can feel intimidating for them. When a child has something to tell you, get down on eye level if you can. This helps children feel more at ease, which opens up communication. Being on eye level conveys the message that you are really paying attention and enhances connection.

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